Stakeholders in the broadcasting industry in the Southeast over the weekend converged on Enugu city, the capital of Enugu State, to brainstorm on ways to achieve effective coverage of the 2023 general elections, in the most fair and responsible manner.
The forum which had as its participants, heads and top-level management staff of media organizations in the Southeast, was put together by the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC.
It had as its theme, “Towards A Fair and Responsible Broadcast Coverage of the 2023 General Elections: A multi-Stakeholders Dialogue.”
Addressing the participants, the NBC Director General, Balarabe Shehu Llelah explained that the meeting is a tradition, to refresh the minds of the practitioners on what is required of them ahead of the commencement of the 2023 election campaigns on the 28th of this month.
According to him, it is important for professionals to be in control of their shows on the airwaves, saying practitioners should be guarded by the NBC code.
“The forum is a tradition in the NBC to prepare practitioners ahead of the general elections.
“During such for a, we emphasize the need for equal access and opportunities to all registered political parties and candidates.
“We understand that it is also the time to make money for the stations, but they must ensure that it is done within the ambits of the law.
“We also wish to remind broadcasters not to allow fake news, hate speech and other inciting statement in the best interest of the security and progress of the country.
“Broadcasters do not have opinion and should jettison their personal sentiments and do their jobs professionalism,” he said.
In a presentation titled ‘Dis/Misinformation during elections: a multi-stakeholder responsibility,’ a resource person at the event, John Otu from the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ebonyi State, said the only way to avoid hate speech and divisive comments during the campaigns, is to make them ideology-based.
Insisting that the media must set the stage for the conversation for good governance to begin, Otu maintained that as the fourth estate of the realm, the media should effectively play its role.
He maintained that every stakeholder has a role in correcting the stereotypes that drive election violence and enthronement of bad leadership.
“The media is an institution of its own and should not be an appendage of government.
“The earlier the media realizes its place in governance, the better for the country.
“Also, the INEC must ensure a level playing field for all parties, and also learn to be as sophisticated in ICT as well as engage savvy technological operators who can pre-empt hackers.
“The NBC must operate without bias to the media houses and shun undue censorship of the media,” he advised.
On his part, the Enugu State Commissioner for information, represented by the Special Adviser to the Enugu Governor on Media, Steve Orura said Nigerians are desirous of a smooth process come 2023, adding that the media is presently under trial, to exhibit equity and fairness in their operation.
In his remarks, the Program Manager of Wazobia FM, Onitsha, Kriss Molokwu stressed the need for the government and its agencies to also lead by example.